MORGAN -- It's only been three years, but for supporters of Morgan High School football, it seems like ancient history. That's how long it's been since the Trojans hosted a first-round playoff game.
In both 2010 and 2011, Morgan lost critical region games that ultimately left them in third place, which meant opening the playoffs on the road.
In 2010 it was a 47-28 loss to rival Bear River, a game in which the Bears scored 12 points in the final three minutes to win it. Last year, the Trojans lost their league opener, a 14-7 overtime defeat to Grantsville. Both losses were against quality opponents, but both times the Trojans felt like they let one slip away. And it cost them in the end.
Sixth-year coach Kovi Christiansen and his players and staff are determined to not let that happen again.
"The big thing that we're going to focus on this year is to take each week as it comes and prepare the best we can for every team we play," Christiansen said. "We need to be ready for every game and not have any letdowns."
The Trojans, who went 4-2 in Region 11 in 2011, play exactly the same schedule as last year in precisely the same order, except that last year's home games are now road games and vice versa. The one exception is the addition of a road game at Roy to finish off the season.
In order for the Trojans to keep up with the likes of Region 11 favorite Stansbury, they'll need to fully utilize their tremendous team speed led by running backs Bridger Anderson, Lantzen Toomer, Kade Carrigan and Joe Kippen.
Morgan has produced some great runners in the past, but it's possible that this is the fastest backfield it's ever had. Throw in quarterback K.T. Tibbits as well as multiple position guru Matt Murdock and opponents could be scratching their heads trying to figure out how to keep up with these guys.
"We're going to try to use some of our speed and some of our power backs that we have coming back," Christiansen said. "When you have running backs that are averaging over five yards a carry, you're gonna ride that pony. Hopefully we have enough footballs to go around for all those backs, but I think they understand that team comes first."
The offensive line brings question marks, but junior Kyle Stapley and center Bryce Fern offer toughness and experience where it's desperately needed. Other linemen who will certainly see action include Thomas Erickson, Ethan Hipwell and Caden Jones. Tight ends Cameron Skinner and Kason Hansen will provide additional protection as well as being receiving threats.
Morgan's wide receivers traditionally don't get a lot of opportunity to touch the football and this year will likely not be the exception. But when defenses start to focus on the run too much, Tibbits, Murdock, Travis Carter, Christian Elton and Ben Saunders will be anxious to make them pay.
Saunders, a junior, was originally slated to take over as starting quarterback after showing promise this summer. But a nagging shoulder injury has slowed his progress, so Tibbits will open the season behind center.
As they do most years, the bulk of the offensive starters will switch sides and play defense as well. Linebackers Ben Holland and Kody Hoopes should provide additional strength on defense, as will defensive end Bridger Streadbeck. Camen Gray will do the kicking.
"We like our kids," Christiansen said. "We're going to get after people and we're going to play hard like Trojans always do. We think we've got as good a shot as anybody to win our region."